doctor(logic) has repeatedly said, in comments here and in other places, that nothing is explanatory unless it is predictive, which he defines in strictly materialist terms. I responded that he is begging the question: eliminating the possibility of God, not by argument, but by assuming God out of the picture. Our discussion on this has ranged over an assortment of other topics. This blog post is for the purpose of honing in on the one question: is doctor(logic) begging the question again (BTQA)?  

(If you have not been following the discussion up until now, this will surely be lacking in context for you. You could either catch up on the comments here and here, where all the debate and the full import of this question can be seen. Or you might just want go sit at Starbucks, or take a nice walk outdoors, or do something else while we have this talk. I'm guessing you'll have a more enjoyable time of it that way.)

It started with doctor(logic) saying,

"1) That at least some things are logically consistent.

"2) That there are at least some discoverable regularities in experience (physical and mental).

"3) That we accept our experiences as truths that demand explanation.

"4) That explanations require the predictive regularities of (3).

"Thus, the materialist claims that there's no such thing as a supernatural explanation. There are explained events and then there are unexplained events. It's that simple."

Sometime later, after much debate on this, I said to DL,
"Now, I think the rest of your post is a continuation of your attempt to show that explanation = prediction. Why is this such a hobby-horse for you? Is it because it serves your purpose of confining all discussion to the material world?" 
Part of his response was,  

"It's because I think this is the differentiator between a materialist and a supernaturalist. A materialist rejects that there can be non-predictive (supernatural) explanations."

To which I answered,
"The reason you are riding the explanation = prediction hobbyhorse is because you are trying to confine all discussion to the material world. 
"That's why I see this as so much game-playing on your part. Here's what you are trying to say to us theists:
"There is no God. How do I know there is no God? Because anything non-material cannot be explanatory of anything. How do I know anything non-material cannot be explanatory? Because I've defined explanation that way. Why do I believe it should be defined that way? Because I know there is no non-material reality, no God. 
"We're not going to buy that, and you may as well give up trying. It's not because we're wedded to an irrational view of reality; it's because what you're saying has no logical, rational, persuasive power. It's a transparent begging of the question." 
He replied (in part),  

"You accuse me of question-begging because you know my conclusion follows from my premises. Thanks for the logic check."

Actually, I accuse him of question-begging because I know his conclusion follows from his premises, and I see that his premises follow from his conclusion. That's the definition of question-begging, isn't it?

This is a crucial point in the discussion that I want to focus in on very tightly. For purposes of this one discussion thread, I'm asking commenters to stay on this one thing:

Challenge topic: Yes or no? doctor(logic)'s definition of "explanation" is a begging of the question regarding materialism.

This is not about whether his explanations are better or worse than Christian/theist ones, or whether theists can, as he has requested, provide an alternate definition. That discussion can continue back in the original thread. In order to stay focused, I'm going to snip out any comments that go off this one topic. 

Posted: Fri - November 10, 2006 at 09:56 AM           |

© 2004-2007 by Tom Gilson. Permission is granted to quote up to two paragraphs of any blog entry, provided that a link back to the original is included or (in print) the website address is provided. Please email me regarding longer quotes. All other rights reserved.

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